Punditry, Politics and Passing Observations

Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act

Hooray for Arizona

The state of Arizona took a great step forward by passing the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" (Arizona SB 1070). This law reinforces existing federal law by making it a state misdemeanor to be in Arizona in violation of existing Federal immigration laws. It also cracks down on people who shelter, hire, and transport illegal aliens. Therefore, it attacks the problem of illegal immigration on two fronts.

This law is overdue, and hopefully other states, especially border states will follow suite. According to a Bear Stearns's analysis, there are an estimated 20 million illegal aliens living in the United States. This number has risen sharpley since about 2000. Some of these people came here legally and then overstayed their visas or lost legal status for some reason (such as the commission of a crime). The vast majority of them came here acting in deliberate defiance of our nation's laws. Although one can imagine exceptions (E.g. someone hastily fleeing a despotic regime), it should be noted that it does not bode well for someone when their very first action in our country is an act of deliberately defying our laws. Such a person must be said to be unlikely to make a good resident. The United States has a right to control the number of immigrants we admit each year, and we have a right to demand that immigrants come here lawfully.

The federal government not only has a right to enforce these laws, they have a responsibility to Americans to do so. They have failed in this mission and they need help. That is where the Arizona law comes in. The Arizona law requires local law enfocement agencies to step up to help correct the failure of the federal government.

Don't critics say local police can't help with immigration?

No where does the Constitution say that local law enforcemnt cannot enforce federal law. To the contrary, there are many examples where it would be the duty of local law enforcement to do so. An example would be counter-terrorism laws, where local, state, and federal enforcement agencies all have roles to play.

Don't critics say the law will lead to racial profiling?

Nothing in the law singles out anyone by race, ethic group, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. The only thing that matters with respect to this law is the immmigration status of the individual.

Syndicated columnist George Will made a great observation when he noted that many of the same people who are claim this law is "racial profiling" are the very same people who are in favor of racial set-asides for hiring, college admissions, college scholarships, and gerrymandering of political districts.

The majority of illegal aliens are of Hispanic descent. Put another way, the majority of people breaking our immigration laws are Hispanic people. Therefore, statistically speaking, the majority of people who run afoul of this law will be Hispanic. However, there is a sizable number of non-Hispanics here illegally. An estimated 10% of all illegal aliens came here from Asia, and another 10% are from Europe, Canada, and other countries. These people will be subject to the law just as those from Mexico or Nicaraqua will be.

Just because a majority of people who break a law are of one race, gender, or age does not mean that the law they are breaking is racist, sexist, or ageist. Hypothetically, if white, middle-class, middle-age, white men were disproportionately in violation of laws against game poaching, that would not infer bias against that segment of society. The same is true of immigration laws. They are color blind. It is not up to Americans to hold back enforcement of our immigration laws simply because one set of people violate those laws with more frequency than other people.

Don't critics say the law lacks due process?

Nothing in this law allows police to randomly arrest people, or to harrass or persecute them. The law requires that the police have probable cause to act:


Will some police officers make mistakes and/or abuse their authority? Almost undoubtable so, unfortunately. Police officers are human beings and they are no more infallible than any other occupation. This is no different than numerous other laws giving police the authority to arrest someone on probable cause. Sometimes they will make mistakes. The court system will sort out those mistakes, including sanctions for the law enforcement officer if their actions were egregious. We have nothing to fear from this measure in that regard.

Hasn't Mexico criticized the law?

The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, has claimed that the law is somehow a "violation of human rights". This is laughable. Nothing in the law is a violation of any ones rights. No one has a right to be in this country illegally. No one has a right to escape prosecution for their violations of our laws.

Furthermore, any crticism from our neighbor and ally to the south reeks of hypocrisy because Mexico has a stricter law called "Reglamento de la Ley General de Problacion" (The General Law on Population) which mandates that federal, local and municipal police cooperte with Mexican federal immigration authorities in the arrests of illegal immigrants. Under the Mexican law, illigal immigration is a felony (compared to a misdemeanor under Arizona law). Therefore, Mexico has no standing to criticize this law under any pretext.

What about the boycotts?

A relatively small number of jurisdictions and private groups have called for boycotts of Arizona. As laid out above, the people of Arizona have taken a perfectly valida and reasoned stance against swams of people disrespecting the laws of America. Criticism of the law is not grounded in fact, and calls for boycotts only make those organizations seem out of step with the 61% of Americans who favor local law enforcemnt aiding in the struggle to stem the tsunami of illigal aliens.

Perhaps it is time to organize boycotts aginst the people who attempt to demonize a perfectly valid piece of legislation? A good place to start might be people whose comments against the law have taken on a racial tone. A good example is Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox. He responded to the law by saying that some Americans are lazy but that "We are not.. We do the hard work. We're the ones who go out and work in the sun to make this country better." Ozzie seems to be under the delusion that their are no lazy Hispanic people anywhere in the country, and that no people from any other race know how to work or to make this country better. He seems to think that he belongs to the Master Race and that all other races are inferior.

Is this an anti-immigration reaction?

Nothing in this law is against immigration. The law is against illegal immigration. The United States accepts more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries in the world combined. A record 1,046,539 persons were naturalized as U.S. citizens in 2008. The leading countries of birth of the new citizens were Mexico, India and the Philippines.

The Arizona law does nothing to change this. The United States will continue to welcome immigrants to settle here, but we have a right to do so on our terms. We have an obligation to today's citizens to see that new people coming here have been vetted for criminal background. We have an obligation to today's citizens to see that new people coming here do so with a respect for the society they are entering, and for the laws of that society. We have a right to control our borders and enforce our laws. The strength of America is in our people. If the federal government can't or wont do so, then our citizens will find other means to do so.